When I was a child, I thought like a child.¹
Curious, quizzical, just occasionally wild…
Well protected in the safety of home,
Granted the freedom to question and roam,
With friends in play and trees to climb,
Asking questions all the time,
Exploring with innocent curiosity
Anything, everything, open to me.
Defined adolescent from age thirteen,
I entered that uncharted space in between:
Uniquely fragile, determinedly fickle,
Fraught with assorted barriers and obstacles,
Governing decisions I didn’t foresee
From child (dependent) to adult (free).
I struggled in keeping with my peers
To grapple with age-related fears
Of confidence, image, identity;
Of towing the line and configuring ‘me’…
Branded a grown-up at just eighteen,
I was frankly unready for what that means.
An August baby, the last in the line
Of others already established in time,
My solemn perceptions of How Life Is
As a grown-up, a gently orthodox business,
Surrounded by Elders in the family line²
Whose lives had been frankly far from fine:
Experiencing War as children and teens,
Seeing things I’ve never seen;
Gifting the stuff of ‘Make Do and Mend’
As much as permission to simply pretend.
From which I acquired, through recreation,
Protected space for imagination
As much as a confidence in my then-small voice
To stand my ground
And own my choice.
*With due respect to Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, BF Skinner (-yes, really!), Margaret Donaldson (Children’s Minds), and Carl Rogers (On Becoming a Person). A sequence of Eminents particular to my own journey.
¹ Bible reference 1-Corinthians 11:13
²Predominantly members of my mum’s extended East-End family – overwhelmingly comprising stalwart great aunts, whose collective sense of propriety concealed tremendous love, resilience and resourcefulness.